The war waging in Israel, initiated by the horrendous and atrocious acts of Hamas, and now being prosecuted by the Israeli army, has created the collateral damage of weaponized words and actions among the advocates of peace. Casual antisemitism, as well as the lazy conflation of Hamas to equal all Palestinians, have led to truly unhelpful and hurtful relationships among former allies.
People with a history of standing together for peace and fighting for justice are now alternatively yelling at one another or abstaining from talking to one another. Worse, because peace advocates have relatives and friends living in the small area in which war is being waged, often this vitriol is being hurled at each other during a period of mourning or deep concern about the safety and welfare of loved ones. This has produced deep and personal hurt.
In Gaza and Israel, human suffering is ubiquitous. The binary nature of war pushes people to pick sides. This process, therefore, creates enemies and friends. To be clear, there is a lot wrong here. Some people are responsible for the atrocities and inexcusable actions.
What is also clear is that, as has been the case for many years, a solution cannot and will not be arrived at without the participation of peace advocates and warriors who are equally outraged by specific leaders, actions and policies, not broad assertions that ethnic identities determine moral culpability. That is the very prejudiced and reductionist thinking that initiates and maintains this justification for violence and terrorism.
Israel needs to defend itself and have security for its people. Palestinians’ lives should not be human shields. The present pain must be stopped, and a permanent solution for Palestinians and Israelis to coexist as either a two-state or single-state solution must be found. None of these essential objectives can be accomplished in the presence of Islamophobia or antisemitism.
The bombing must stop, both in rhetoric and in reality. It is time to be adults, put away the childish and hurtful name-calling and stop the simplistic blaming. We need to get about the adult business of making peace.
Rev. Floyd Tompkins is the lead pastor at Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church in Marin City.